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Bills GM: Zay Jones must 'earn his way' back into lineup

When the Buffalo Bills return for training camp in July, there will be question marks littered all over their offensive formation.

Who's starting under center? How will Buffalo fill its three vacancies along the offensive line? Behind Kelvin Benjamin, who will pan out in the wide receiver room?

Buffalo's No. 2 option is thought to be second-year receiver Zay Jones, but off-the-field issues and a knee injury have hamstrung his progress ahead of 2018.

Bills general manager Brandon Beane made it clear last week that when Jones returns to form, he won't be guaranteed a spot back in the starting lineup.

"He's not just going to necessarily go right to the top of the line," Beane said on WGR 550, via NewYorkUpstate.com. "He'll have to earn his way. Part of that will just be just getting his feel. He's only played with Nathan Peterman. He has not got to play with Josh Allen or AJ [McCarron] yet. So that bond there will just have to form."

A 2017 second-round pick out of East Carolina, Jones was inconsistent during his first year in the pros, only rarely flashing brilliance. He tallied just 27 receptions for 316 yards and two touchdowns.

Even before undergoing knee surgery in May, the 23-year-old wideout was in the middle of an unnerving offseason. Jones underwent shoulder surgery in January, and he was arrested in March on a bizarre felony vandalism charge that was later dropped.

Behind Benjamin and Jones (supposedly) on Buffalo's depth chart are Andre Holmes, Kaelin Clay, Jeremy Kerley, Brandon Reilly, Rod Streater, Quan Bray, Ray-Ray McCloud and undrafted free agents Robert Foster and Cam Phillips, all of whom saw first-team snaps during minicamp.

If and when Jones returns to training camp healthy, perhaps he will secure the No. 2 role Buffalo drafted him to seize. But until then, the Bills are keeping their options open.

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